Edmond Halley’s magnificent prediction

Born on today’s date in the year 1656, English astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley was the first to predict the return of a comet. Today, Halley’s Comet – the most famous of all comets – bears his name.

What’s the birthstone for November?

Happy birthday November babies!  Your birthstone, the topaz, can be blue, pale green, yellow, pink, red, purple, brown and even black.

Man standing in the center of a giant crystal doughnut.

Scientists study world’s biggest geode

Scientists recently studied the formation of the huge crystals inside the giant geode of Pulpí, located deep in a Spanish mine. They revealed the natural process that grew the crystals, ripening them over thousands of years and making them literally crystal clear.

Is daylight time worth the trouble?

This is the weekend we “fall back” here in the U.S. Are you glad? Sad? Mad? Advocates say daylight time saves energy and wins wars. Studies show injuries and illnesses rise when clocks change.

Face of a fierce-looking owl.

Night vision specialists: cats, bats, and owls

Three spooky Halloween animals see better at night than we do. Here’s how they do it.

Halloween is a cross-quarter day

The 4 cross-quarter days fall between equinoxes and solstices. Halloween is the spookiest one – derived from a sacred festival of ancient Celts and Druids – coming as days grow short and nights long in the Northern Hemisphere.

Animation shows contrast between August 2018 and August 2019 fires on a map of the whole Earth.

Is Earth on fire?

The European Space Agency was asking this question late last week, as multiple fires burned across the globe. Read more about 2019 fires, and fire-tracking via satellite, here.

Streaks of light in circles against a black background.

What are star trails, and how can I capture them?

Star trails are the continuous paths created by stars, produced during long-exposure photos, such as the images in this post.

Update on the 2nd interstellar visitor

Astronomers in Poland have just published the 1st peer-reviewed paper on the 2nd interstellar visitor, now officially labeled as a comet, 2I/Borisov. Plus check out the new Hubble Space Telescope image of this object.

Two female astronauts in spacesuits with no helmets.

Watch 1st all-female spacewalk

Watch 2 NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) make history by performing the 1st ever all-female spacewalk on Friday.

Tiny stature of extinct ‘Hobbit’ thanks to fast evolution

New research suggests that the tiny human species – that survived until about 18,000 years ago, later than any human species other than our own – evolved its small size remarkably quickly while living on an isolated island.

While still in the womb, humans have extra lizard-like muscles in their hands

Research involving a non-invasive scan of living human embryos shows that some muscles, thought to have been abandoned by our mammalian ancestors 250 million years ago, are still present before birth. They’re among the oldest, albeit fleeting, remnants of evolution yet seen in humans.

It’s been 20 years since the Day of 6 Billion

Our global human population was estimated to reach 6 billion on today’s date in 1999. Eleven years later, in 2011, Earth had gained another billion people. Today – October 12, 2019 – it stands at about 7.7 billion, according to United Nations estimates.

A year with 13 Friday the 13ths?

Should we ever adopt the International Fixed Calendar, we’d have 13 months in a year, with each month containing a Friday the 13th. Friggatriskaidekaphobia – aka fear of Friday the 13th – would be rampant! Or not. Read more about this calendar system here.

"Poster" for International Observe the Moon NIght 2019, showing the moon above Rome's skyline.

International Observe the Moon Night is October 5

International Observe the Moon Night is a worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration, celestial observation, and our cultural and personal connections to the moon. In 2019, it comes on October 5. Here’s how to join in.

Researchers to spend a year trapped in Arctic ice

In October 2019, the research icebreaker Polarstern will drop anchor at an ice floe in the northern Laptev Sea, to spend a year investigating Earth’s Arctic.

A polar bear walking across sea ice.

What climate change in the Arctic means for the rest of us

Air temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at least twice as fast as the global average. What worries climate scientists about the Arctic summer of 2019? And why does it matter for the rest of the world?

IAU names the 2nd interstellar visitor

The first known interstellar visitor received the official name ‘Oumuamua, meaning ‘scout.’ This one has a less romantic name and one that sets a standard for future discoveries: 2I/Borisov.

Drought reveals a lost Spanish Stonehenge

Thanks to 2019’s record drought in Europe, a 7,000-year-old circle of 150 upright stones is back on dry land in western Spain, after 50 years underwater.

An astronomer contemplates the equinox

You can think of the equinox not as a whole day, but as a point along Earth’s orbit. Want to understand that better? Guy Ottewell offers some insights.